Milverton Episcopal Chapel or Pepper Pot Chapel
This chapel was built to solve the problem of those of Milverton’s parishioners who preferred not to travel to St. James, or brave the Binn’s brook to worship outside their home parish in a Leamington chapel. The ‘Pepper Pot Chapel’ as it was generally called due to the ‘mysterious and unexplained excrescence on the summit’ was the eventually built in 1836 as a chapel of St. James. The land was given by the Earl of Warwick, and is another chapel at the centre of a development of large villas.
The building lasted until 1879 when the erection of St. Marks led to it becoming redundant with the site used for housing and reputedly some of the stones used in the Dell Park. If it had survived it would surely now be a listed building, if only for its peculiar roof top lump, that was neither steeple nor tower.
This church was created to cater for the newly created parish of New Milverton, whilst Old Milverton continued to use the original church of St. James. For some unexplained reason the ‘Pepper Pot Chapel’ was unsuitable as a parish church, so St Marks was built on the site of an apple orchard on Rugby Rd., gifted by Lady Bertie-Percy. A generous bequest of £9,000 by Lady Wheeler along with the donation of the residue of her estate by her brothers raised the sum of £40,000 to build the new parish church, which was duly opened on July 19th 1879, and it continues serve the parish to this day.
This is a small ‘Early English’ chapel on Heath Terrace, which was also built by the largesse of Lady Wheeler, whose estate paid for St. Mark’s. It was originally intended for the servants of those who attended ‘the Pepper Pot Chapel. The building of St.Mark’s some seven years later in 1879 made it redundant, although it found use as a church hall, with children’s services and mission work amongst the poor recorded. There is also an 1892 record of a ‘monthly service for invalids’, possibly it was used because of the ease of access. It is now used by the Emmanuel Evangelical Church, as it has since 1985.
St. James is the original parish church of the village of Millverton, most of which has been swallowed by the growth of Leamington. St James was left somewhat isolated by the growth of that part of Milverton adjacent to Leamington, although it does seem to have attracted its own dedicated following. It was ‘Victorianised’ in 1879/80, which is about the same time as the creation of the division of the Milverton Parish into two separate units. The graveyard also appears to contain rather more tombstones than could normally be expected of a small rural parish. The number of tombs and the modernisation would both suggest that some die-hards still preferred to use the old church rather than the newer chapels and churches built for their use in New Milverton. St James had the distinction of being the only Anglican church that appeared to have taken the 1851 Religious Census seriously with 87 worshippers recorded on the day.